The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a Phase 1 inquiry into Switzerland-based secondary ticketing company Viagogo’s proposed $4.05 billion cash acquisition of eBay’s ticketing division StubHub.
The sale is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions.
The CMA is inviting comments on the transaction from any interested party.
According to the statement published today (December 13), “the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is considering whether it is or may be the case that this transaction, if carried into effect, will result in the creation of a relevant merger situation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002 and, if so, whether the creation of that situation may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services”.
At the start of the month, UK-based FanFair Alliance, an organization that campaigns against industrial-scale online ticket touting, wrote to the CMA urging an investigation of the proposed merger.
Eric Baker (pictured), Viagogo’s founder and CEO, also co-founded StubHub while in business school, but left before the business was sold to eBay for $310m in 2007. Baker later created Viagogo, which was originally based in London.
The sale of eBay’s secondary ticketing platform follows a strategic review of the division announced in March.
The review was launched after an open letter was issued in January by one of eBay’s largest investors, Elliott Management Corporation, which called for a “comprehensive portfolio review” and suggested that the divestitures of the subsidiaries will create more value for eBay shareholders.
“Having written to the CMA and urged them to investigate, we’re obviously pleased they’ve opened a Phase 1 inquiry.”
Adam Webb, FanFair Alliance
Adam Webb, Campaign Manager, FanFair Alliance, said: “Having written to the CMA and urged them to investigate, we’re obviously pleased they’ve opened a Phase 1 inquiry.
“Aside from the persistent controversies surrounding these platforms, both of which are almost wholly dependent upon large-scale commercial ticket resellers, a merger between Viagogo and StubHub would have profound and damaging impacts for UK audiences and music businesses.”Music Business Worldwide